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Submitted: Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 17:07
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looking at converting the house to solar power connected to the main grid, has any one done this , am looking for pitt falls, all opions on both sides will be greatly appreciated. I live on the Atherton tablelands far nth QLD. Regards Col
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Reply By: Member - Nev (TAS) - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 17:24

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 17:24
Hi kiwicol, grants page.htm

This may be of use. I can only think it would be good and am seriously thinking the same.
Best of luck with it.



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Reply By: ZukscooterX90 - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 19:23

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 19:23
Hi Col, I do not have first hand experience with what you are thinking of doing re. solar. I did hear somewhere in the media a couple of weeks back that the buy back system is not worth the effort as it would take too long in time to make it really worth your while.So it may pay you to look into it a fair bit before you put out your hard earned $'s.
Bob. :)
AnswerID: 301024

Reply By: KSV. - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 19:59

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 19:59
Been here done this.

No I have not converted my house to solar, but was thinking about this a while ago. After even rough calculation it seems that you can recover your investment only in 10 years (very optimistic calculations BTW). And it still would require some maintenance cost (batteries replacement for example). So unless you *COMLETELLY* sure that you will stay in the same house for 20 years, I would say no.

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Follow Up By: normo - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 16:11

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 16:11
There are no batteries with a grid connected system.
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Reply By: Member - Roscoe ET (QLD) - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:08

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:08
I live on a rural residential acrerage and I thought it was a good idea, initially.

I did some research on the fors and against from the point of view that it would provide my house with power 24/7, I wouldn't have to use grid power or if I did it would be very little. Any excess power I had would go into the grid and I would receive some sort of payment for the power that I contributed into the grid.

However to do this I would also need a good set of batteries connected to an inverter to supply 240v to the house. That would be the only way that my house would be able to operate off solar power 24/7 for a majority of the time. The way I saw it is if you don't have the solar panels connected to a good battery system then the only time you would get benefit is between the hours of 10.00am and 2.00pm each day when the panels are producing max capacity, the rest of the time you'd be using the grid.

So the costing exercise I did made the idea very expensive and I figured it was far cheaper to use grid power in the long term. I didn't believe you'd ever get your money back and the govt incentive was really a token measure.

I was talking to one of my neighbours a few weeks ago and he had looked into it as well and came up with the same conclusion as me.

You really need to work out the total power needs of all your appliances and when you start adding washing machines, freezers, fridges and in my case a water pump you need a fairly big system.

Anyway, I decided not to do it for the reasons mentioned I hope it helps. If you didn't intend to be fully self sufficient it may be for you but make sure you go into it thoroughly.
AnswerID: 301037

Follow Up By: mike w (WA) - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:54

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:54
Roscoe, some good points. The investigating that I did concluded that basically you need to look at a whole of house change, which includes lighting, appliances and behaviours.

It seems to be something that wont make you money, but can save you valuable dollars if done right, . Feeding into the grid only gains you credits with your poower company, not dollars. It appears to be a balancing act- you make credits when the conditions are good (e.g. summer), and use those credits in times when you solar production is limited i.e. winter. There is a great book put out by choice which is based on a house in ?sydney who has had very good success, but as stated previously, it was a global change, not just a slap in a system and keep working as previous.

It is for these reasons that I plan to wait until we decide to build our next place, so it can be set up properly from the start.

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Follow Up By: Member - Roscoe ET (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 07:32

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 07:32
I've also come to the conclusion that if you are connected to the grid unless the govt subsidy is substantially increased then it really isn't a viable proposition.

You're right about needing to look at a whole of house change when we built we put in 12v lighting and selected the most energy efficient appliances we could find. It's also about behaviours.

If you live on a country block where power is not close by and it's going to cost big dollars to get rural power connected, Royce has mentioned in his reply that 6 years ago it would cost $46k to have this done to his block; then solar power backed up by wind generation would have to be viable.

In my view of the govt are serious about cleaning up the environment then they should make the subsidy much more attractive.

When you think of the cost to build a power station and ongoing maintenance costs if they put those costs towards more attractive and viable subsidies then it is possible to have a significant number of houses using their own power without the need for another power station, their excess power would go into the grid to help power the remaining requirements.

If we could have 50% of houses in this country using solar and putting excess power into the grid we wouldn't need as many power stations.

I was over your way last year and you guys get so much consistent wind over there I joked to one of the locals that you could fill the whole of the west coast with wind generators and power the whole of Australia!!!

I did enjoy the trip though.

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Follow Up By: mike w (WA) - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 10:28

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 10:28
>I was over your way last year and you guys get so much consistent wind over there I joked to one of the locals that you could fill the whole of the west coast with wind generators and power the whole of Australia!!!

Not such a silly idea. We have a few farms over here now, two I know of are in Alabany and another on the coast on the way to Geraldton. The only problem with wind farms is that, as silly as it may seem, people dont like the way they look- good to see people have their priorities straight eh?! personally I love the look of a wind farm.

I cant agree with your view regarding 50% of houses having solar, It should be alot more;). Even if solar power was only used to supply power for efficient 12v lighting, think of the gains that would be made there alone. Cheap to set up, no need for expensive inverters, basically just the panels, batteries, regulators and a refit of 12v lighting. Thats got me thinking a bit, now...
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Follow Up By: Member - Roscoe ET (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 16:37

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 16:37
I didn't want to sound too radical when I said 50%, no argument from me about it being more. I saw those wind farms near Geraldton I thought they looked pretty impressive better than a power station billowing out CO2 and other harmful gases into the atmosphere!!!
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Reply By: John R (SA) - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:33

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:33
No first hand knowledge here either I'm afraid, though my sister is presently building a house across the road, completely independent of the grid.

Because of the cost of connecting to the grid, which pretty much equals the cost of purchasing and installing the solar system, it is well worth it for them.

She commented last week that they're getting the application in pretty smartly as the existing funding is running out, and no clear indication has been given by the new govt as to whether they will extend/modify/end the subsidy.

For what it's worth, with the carbon trading circus path this country is heading down, I can't see electricity staying this cheap for much longer. Might affect the economics of the venture!
AnswerID: 301043

Follow Up By: KSV. - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:47

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:47
Might?!? You are joking! It *WILL* indeed. Electricity is fundamental essential of all economics and putting extra tax aka stupid “carbon trading scheme” definitely shakes economics to the bones. Instead of listening to those stupid greens it would be heaps better to stop burning coal and start using nuclear and geothermal energy – that indeed will make difference, not like indulgence certificate called “carbon trading scheme”.

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Reply By: mike w (WA) - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:47

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:47
No first hand experience, but I did spend considerable time in a previous job researching said for a project I was working on.

Google: Remote Area Power Supply (or RAPS) Lots and lots of info, especially australian based.

Here is the link to a fed government site, which will give you a bit of info:RAPS info

It is a good platform. There used to be (and may still be) government subsidies available for those making the 'green choice', they used to be in the visinity of $7000, which on a $16,000 system, makes it quite a reasonable investment

Good luck, plan to do the same in the future (and have been wanting to for a while), but probably on the next house when it can be set up to suite from the start.
AnswerID: 301044

Follow Up By: mike w (WA) - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:55

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:55
Also forgot, there is a great book on sustainable housing put out by Choice. It is based on a mans house in ?sydney.
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Reply By: Member - Jack - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 21:20

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 21:20
Sustainable House link

Guy who put this house together is called Michael Mobbs. House is located about 5km out of Sydney cbd. You are bound to find something useful in the book.

Good luck.

The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (Lewis Carroll-Alice In Wonderland)

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AnswerID: 301053

Reply By: Member - Royce- Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 21:44

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 21:44
Hope to sell up over the next year or two and build on one of our blocks.

It would have cost $46,000 to get grid power on 6 years ago... don't know about now.. so we are looking into solar and maybe even wind power.

Keep us posted on how you go. Good luck.

Cheers Royce
AnswerID: 301058

Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 21:55

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 21:55
It would be a fun project Kiwicol , but only viable if your mission was to connect a solar power house to the grid.

I took a very practical approach.

I had a mission to make a low running cost house in the bush
and in surveying the resource base available I noted that I had an inexhaustible supply of firewood.

Hence the stratergy I implemented was to completely ignore all solar devices like even the now common solar boosted hot water services and instead use things like wood burning heaters that excepted longer logs (hence less cutting) and to back this up
with high levels passive insulation and double glazing etc.

For power - due to quirks in our electricity supply rules we get electricity off-peak at about 1/4 the price of on-peak.

I then developed battery bank systems which would then charge from the mains off peak.

I.E. The essential stratergy I used was to time shift the electricity supply.
Robin Miller

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Follow Up By: KSV. - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 07:54

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 07:54
May I ask you what kind of batteries and inventors do you use? Your approach sounds very feasible to me.

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 09:23

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 09:23
Hi Serg

My system has been a lot of fun and has evolved over its 20 years but has only ever used standard 12v car batteries and small square wave inverters up to 1500w, and a backup 240 Vdc (not ac) generator with small "keep alive" only solar panel.

This is because it is not designed to supply power to all the heavy use 240v devices but rather to supply a few small lights and things and emergency power for when the frequent power outages occur.
Most of these things are on a seperate 12volt cable system that runs through the house.

Most heavy use electricity is managed via off peak rates which operate overnight (11pm to 7am) i.e. use washing machine before 7am, dishwashers and clothes dryers
are banned etc.

My emphasis has been on low cost and practicality, and while now a frequent use holiday house it has gone thru longer periods of occupancy achieving a total utilites budget of about $300/year.
(No gas, Water is our own - gravity feed from a shed, and we use large amounts of solar energy in the form of burning wood)

If fact the most expensive item became the telephone line rental so it got chucked out some years ago as cost effective mobiles came on line.
Robin Miller

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